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<xTITLE>In an election year, falsehoods not so easily banished by facts</xTITLE>

In an election year, falsehoods not so easily banished by facts

by Diane J. Levin

From Mediation Channel

Diane J. Levin

Separating truth from liesSo much of negotiation and mediation is about changing minds. As negotiators gather and exchange information, new data shifts the way people understand the underlying issues, perceive the risks, and weigh choices.

The concealment or distortion of facts are the thumb on the butcher’s scales in any negotiation. Knowledge — accurate information — is indeed power.

But possessing accurate information may not be enough, whether we are talking about making decisions at the negotiation table or in the voting booth. It’s what we do with that information that matters. Consider the following.

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s campaign launched Fight the Smears, a web site created to counter right-wing attacks on Obama and his wife. But last week the blog Neuromarketing asked, “Will Obama’s ‘Fight the Smears’ Backfire?“:

I’ll leave the question of whether Fight the Smears is neutral and factual as opposed to partisan spin to the political pundits. Rather, I’d like to focus on the neuromarketing aspects of this effort: could Fight the Smears end up promoting the very allegations it is trying to quash?

This idea is far from outrageous. In Damage Control That Causes More Damage, I wrote about research conducted by the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] that showed repeating a false claim in order to discredit it actually caused more people to believe that it was true.

Want an up-close look at how the persistence of myths looks on an individual level? One voter from Medina, Ohio, despite the efforts of one blogger to innoculate her against political urban legends, persists in believing that Barack Obama is an Arab — which, she insists, disqualifies him for the job as U.S. president. Here is a video in which she struggles to explain why she clings to her views, despite a close encounter with the truth:

Biography


Diane Levin, J.D., is a mediator, dispute resolution trainer, negotiation coach, writer, and lawyer based in Marblehead, Massachusetts, who has instructed people from around the world in the art of talking it out. Since 1995 she has helped clients resolve disputes involving tort, employment, business, estate, family, and real property issues, and serves on numerous mediation panels, including the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Training and coaching are an enduring passion -- she has taught thousands of people to resolve conflict, negotiate better, or become mediators -- from Croatian judges to Fortune 500 executives.

 

A geek at heart, Levin consults on web design and social media to professionals.  She blogs about ADR at the intersection of law, science, and popular culture at the award-winning MediationChannel.com, regarded as one of the world's top ADR blogs.  She also tracks and catalogues ADR blogs world-wide at ADRblogs.com, where she has created a community for bloggers writing about constructive ways to resolve disputes.

 

web site: http://dianelevin.com



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